WQA issues statement on cyanotoxins

Aug. 7, 2014

LISLE, Ill. — Cyanotoxins are toxic secondary metabolites produced by certain cyanobacteria species that may be present in rivers, lakes and other forms of surface water.

LISLE, Ill. — The Water Quality Association (WQA) released an official statement on cyanotoxins, such as microcystin, which was recently detected in Toledo, Ohio’s public water supply, according to a press release.

Cyanobacteria, certain varieties of freshwater algae, could be present in surface water, such as lakes and rivers, stated the release.

With the right conditions, cyanobacteria, sometimes referred to as blue-green algae, can rapidly multiply in surface water, causing harmful cyanobacterial algal blooms and some species produce toxic secondary metabolites, known as cyanotoxins, reported the release.

Increased production of cyanotoxins has been observed at certain times during the year, particularly during the late summer, however the conditions that cause production are not well understood, noted the release.

When cyanobacteria die, or if one of their cell walls is destroyed, microcystin is released and according to the EPA, there are over 80 different known variations of microcystin, stated the release.

Cyanotoxin exposure — in drinking water or from direct contact with the skin — can cause a several health symptoms in humans, such as fever, headaches, blisters, stomach cramps, vomiting, muscle and joint pain, diarrhea, mouth ulcers and allergic reactions, noted the release.

Check out EPA’s factsheet for more information on cyanobacteria and cyanotoxins.

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